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Tactile Play Part I

Grandma Jan and Cousin Ruby got the children Perler Beads last week.  I have fond memories of making Perler Bead crafts with friends as a child, and was pleased to see how much the children enjoyed them, too. Hal spent the first few minutes just running his fingers through the beads in the pie tin.  As a 3 year-old, he really enjoys the process of tactile play more than completing a project.  When he settled down and started to work with the form, applying each bead one by one, fine-tuning his hand-eye coordination and fine-pincher grip. The girls, being 7

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Nothing To Do

The children are really enjoying this book.  It’s those days where we have “nothing to do” that the kids engage in deep, meaningful learning on their own terms. This week we’ve been playing a lot of card games (Bea’s favorite), which reinforce cooperation, strategy, addition, subtraction, memory recall for the girls, and help Hal ( age 3 1/2)  with number recognition. Our friend Dr. Ellie gave the children this paper punch-out book, and Hal has particularly been enjoying the city play mat in it.  It has been really neat to see him maturing in his play, and listening to the

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Top Secret Adventures

Many thanks to my mother for getting the kids a subscription to Highlights Magazine‘s Top Secret Adventures!!  Ever issue brings a new mystery to solve in a new country.  It’s one of the best structured homeschooling activities we’ve ever worked on as a family. We’re currently making our way around China attempting to solve a crime, and in the process learning geography, history, anthropology!  We’re solving logic puzzles and mazes, and breaking secret codes! We can’t wait to solve the mystery, and look forward to next month’s adventure!

Hippie Snack

Just a quick post to share the recipe for my favorite childhood snack. We were given 40 lbs of honey (albeit, crystallized, so I’ve had to de-crystallize it in batches), so I’ve been trying to come up with ways to use it in my cooking.  We’ve made several batches of jam, substituting honey for a portion of the sugar (more on that later this week.), and tomorrow we’ll be canning peaches with honey instead of sugar and also starting a batch of mead. I wanted to pass along a recipe that my mom used to make me for an afternoon

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On the wheel, on the map

We’ve been studying a lot about map reading and map making, and yesterday afternoon I brought out a huge sheet of posterboard and let the children create and label their own “treasure map”.  (Little Hen’s idea is to re-create the map in real-life in the backyard and then use their map to find the “treasure”.   Pretty clever idea, actually. My only concern is creating the “grape soda lake” they drew on the map…   😉 If the rain holds out, I think the girls will have a great time with their treasure hunt this afternoon. I was feeling a bit

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A budding artist

Look who decided to help himself to the craft supply box while I was attempting to make dinner (and the girls were having a tickle war). It’s hard to believe that Tum Tum will be TWO next month…he’s outgrowing so much of his sweet baby-ness.  I loved watching him drawing intently and singing to himself all the while – he’s growing into such a big boy so very fast…bittersweet, really.

Little Ragamuffins

We scrapped all other plans for today, and simply played in in the dirt. As Firecracker said, “There’s nothin’ more natural than gettin’ dirty.” Somehow, in the midst of playing “dirt fairies”, “cruel dirt queen who makes her workers dig all day”, “climb dirt mountain”, “search for worms and buried treasure”, and “fill and empty buckets of dirt over and over”, we managed to spread just shy of two yards more compost over the front beds, finally completing them. Tomorrow – chard, beets, kale, mustard greens and potatoes are sown out front.  The coming weeks – finish backyard beds, plant

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Why I haven’t been blogging the past week or so

We’re working on a converting our front lawn into veggie beds, and the unseasonably warm and dry weather has helped us get a jump start on sheet mulching.  Goodbye lawn, hello permaculture landscape!  While Tum Tum and I spread cardboard, straw, manure and compost, Little Hen and her Daddy were busy building cold frames out of scrap wood and old windows from the ReStore. (Firecracker was either resting inside, or resting curled up in a nest of blankets on the driveway, since she not only had strep throat, but then a head-to-toe reaction to the amoxicillin meant to cure the

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Morning reading

This photo pretty well sums up our morning literary activities of late. First thing this morning, we had to get a bit pot of chili blanco going on the stove, and batch of brownies in the oven, since it’s our turn to bring dinner to our homegroup.   While Firecracker helped measure out the spices and crush the garlic, Little Hen was in the living room, practicing some yoga with her Yoga Pretzels cards (she says “Warrior 1” is her favorite pose).  She does 3 or 4 cards each morning, when she remembers. After the brownies came out, we sat down

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Christmas tea

The dolls hosted a little Christmas tea party for their sparrow, cardinal and swan friends yesterday morning.   Pretend mint tea, fruitcake, gingerbread, and bird seed were served under the Christmas tree. The girls were inspired by my favorite childhood Christmas book – Tasha Tudor’s, A Doll’s Christmas.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  It is out of print, but you may be able to find it at your local library.

Paper crafting – freestyle

The past month has left me feeling stretched pretty thin because of obligations and responsibilities to my family and others.     Tackling domestic duties and  “home schooling” the girls while my non-stop motion toddler “explores” the house into a distaster zone has also been a challenge.  Crafting has been particularly tricky – Tum Tum either attempt to eat or destroy anything the girls are working on – and he’s especially good at climbing up on the kitchen table and flinging art supplies across the room in a lightning flash. This day, he took a nice long nap after lunch, so as

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Safari Girls

We’re studying Africa off and on lately, primarily because the girls’ interest in the continent was sparked by their favorite musician’s recent work in Malawi.  I picked up this felt Africa playset at the thrift store on sale for a quarter, and it was a big hit.   Along with Dana’s music, we’ve been listening to some African music while the girls played with the felt set and throughout the week  – Acoustic Africa, Ladysmith’s Long Walk to Freedom, and the girls’ favorite Gift of the Tortoise. The girls decided they would take turns setting out pieces for the other

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Math this week

Here’s a look at some of the mathematics we’ve been studying this week.  The girls LOVE the Sir Cumference series of books, and even though the math concepts are technically “above grade level” for them, the girls seem to have no problem understanding the material.  For example, Little Hen informed us that the slice of applesauce cake she had for dessert “makes an acute angle.” We’ve also pulled out a few board games from our enormous board game stash (mostly from thrift stores) that encourage children to think mathematically.  Despite the tedious sounding name, this Dino game is great for

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REALLY simple child’s toy

Tum Tum playing peek-a-boo with his own fingers for quite a while this afternoon.  I love how he chuckled quietly to himself  every time his finger peeked through the boxes’ holes. Later in the day, the box was turned into a race car as the girls gave him rides around the living room, and currently it is a shopping cart full of play food as he walks it in a circuit around the playroom, adding more food every time he passes the play kitchen. Yay for simple, free, imaginative play!

Magic Potion

At day camp this week, Little Hen made a magic potion, which she has been applying on everyone – to cure anything from splinters to a grouchy mood.  She loves bestowing “goodness” on everyone. Here’s her recipe as she dictates it to me ( how she remembers it from camp) Magic Potion Recipe by Little Hen 24 handfuls of shredded beeswax a medium sized jar of canola or olive oil (not sure which) a whole boquet of flowers (such as roses, clover flowers, and every type of flower you can think of) Directions – First, take some flower petals and

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Some Waldorf Magic

Little Hen has been at Waldorf Art Day Camp (and thus immersed in magical-make-believe) for the past two weeks, .  Her sister misses her terribly while she’s gone (“Is it time to pick up sissy yet?  Is it time to pick up sissy yet???”), but we’ve been trying to do something special in the mornings – just Firecracker and me (and sometimes the baby in the backpack)  – a trip to the coffee shop for steamers, a visit to the craft store, a walk to the park, making brownies, that kind of thing. So, here’s some of what my artistic

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Doll Journal

After a break of several weeks (during which time, she preferred to draw and paint large portraits and wildlife scenes) Little Hen has returned to drawing miniatures and creating mail for our Sparrow Post. We’ve decided to put the Sparrow Post box out in the garden in a few weeks when it starts to take shape, but since the yard is in such a state of transition, it hasn’t happened yet.  So instead, she leaves little sketches on the window sills, tucked into bookshelves, on the nature table – wherever a passing fairy-friend might find them. Here she is intently

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Sunday summer afternoon

Little Hen and I picking wildflowers in the yard, and cutting out new paperdolls from Grandma, while the little ones take a nice long nap. I think that makes for a pretty good Sunday afternoon.

Robin Hood

The girls have progressed in their literary obsessions from Little House to Narnia, and now to all things Robin Hood.   They (and their daddy) also happen to love collecting and playing board games of all types, so when they came across  Ravensburger’s Robin Hood Board Game at the thrift store this week (for 75 cents!), they snatched it up.  (I love Ravensburger’s games – their beautiful wooden pieces, interesting themes, and content that is so appealing to children an adults alike.) The kids and I are sick with a sore throat, and considering the 95 degree heat outside, today

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Farina, Mary and Elsie take tea

Farina Pink Apron had her best friends over for afternoon tea. Hot tea, fresh milk, and sweet cream were served, along with a lovely assortment of pastries. “Farina likes her tea with drop of milk.” Mary “likes honey drizzled on her scones, but that makes her hands sticky, so she needs some help with her tea cup.” “Would Elsie like a crumpet and a biscuit both?…A crumpet is something to eat, isn’t it?” It was, Little Hen tells me, a pleasant little get-together by all accounts.

Strawberry-Banana Jam

This was a first try for strawberry-banana jam, so I simply used the recipe from Sure-Jell’s website, instead of fiddling with one of my own (why reinvent the wheel, right?). The jam was beautiful, and very very tasty, and although maybe a little too sweet (I like some tartness to my jam, but the kids thought it was perfect).  I also found less of a problem with floating fruit than in other strawberry-based jam recipes.  This recipe is definitely a keeper (maybe with some more strawberries and one fewer banana, since the banana flavor overpowered the strawberry a little bit?).

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Shell play, and a story

The girls were playing with a box of shells from the nature table – just looking them over, talking about the colors and shapes of each shell.  They spent a long time handling the shells, discussing them. Then, Firecracker found this in the box, held it up and shouted, “A DRAGON SCALE!! A REAL LIFE DRAGON SCALE!!!”  This led into the girls making up a story about how a dragon scale could end up on the beach  where Mama found it.  It went something like this: The dragon was getting ready to shed its scales, and you know that makes

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Spring-into-Summer Nature Table

While not technically summer, the very warm, sunny weather of late has been pointing us in that direction.  The girls and I have cleared away the spring table and begun to gather items for our summer table.  It’s just beginning to take shape – rocks from a nature hike, sweet alyssum from the yard, beeswax flowers Little Hen made, some shells from the beach… We are looking forward to seeing it grow and change as the summer progresses, and also seeing and drawing inspiration from other families’ nature tables. Some blog and flickr posts that showcase nature tables -  Chickadee

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A boy and his dog

Tum Tum leaning in for a smooch, and our poor poodle trying to recoil.  He’s determined to love on her, and she tries her best to tolerate his presence.

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